Marking a complaint
I have said it before and no doubt I shall say it again.
When I am dissatisfied with a restaurant meal, I take it up with the owner/manager, not the cook.
But in dentistry it is the associate (the cook) who finds themselves up before the General Dental Council (GDC), not the practice owner (restaurant manager).
I don’t whether the GDC keeps a record of how many of the 3,000+ complaints it receives are in respect of associates rather than practice owners, but with 80% of dentists working for someone else, it must be a large proportion.
The last 10 or more years has seen a large influx of dentists from eastern Europe.
I am sure their technical and language skills are up to the job, but how do they work their way through the labyrinthine minefield that is today’s NHS dentistry, especially when they have no need to take part in foundation training?
They are attractive to recruit since dentists’ pay in their own countries is so abysmal that they are prepared to work for less than home-grown graduates.
In that respect they are no different from the thousands of people who have come here to work.
But in the dentists' case, if anything goes wrong, it is the company that employs the migrant that is accountable.
The employer must ensure that those they bring in from overseas are properly trained and supervised.
What concerns me is that if something goes wrong in dentistry, the associate, whether from overseas or the UK, not the practice owner, carries the can with the GDC.
NHS England, when it awards contracts, should look at what sort of training and mentoring programmes larger practices have in place, not just the bottom line of who puts in the lowest bid.
Practice owners should be accountable for the actions of all those working under their NHS contract.
And, although the GDC cannot hold a corporate body to account, it should start looking at the dentists and other registrants who supervise those less experienced than themselves.